Ride sharing is an alternative to hitchhiking. Carpooling is the sharing of car journeys so that more than one person travels in a car, and prevents the need for others to have to drive to a location themselves.
By having more people using one vehicle, carpooling reduces each person’s travel costs such as: fuel costs, tolls, and the stress of driving. Carpooling is also a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way to travel as sharing journeys reduces air pollution, carbon emissions, traffic congestion on the roads, and the need for parking spaces. Authorities often encourage carpooling, especially during periods of high pollution or high fuel prices. Car sharing is a good way to use up the full seating capacity of a car, which would otherwise remain unused if it were just the driver using the car.
In 2009, carpooling represented 43.5% of all trips in the United States and 10% of commute trips. The majority of carpool commutes (over 60%) are “fam-pools” with family members.
Carpool commuting is more popular for people who work in places with more jobs nearby, and who live in places with higher residential densities. Carpooling is significantly correlated with transport operating costs, including fuel prices and commute length, and with measures of social capital, such as time spent with others, time spent eating and drinking and being unmarried. However, carpooling is significantly less likely among people who spend more time at work, elderly people, and homeowners.
Like hitchhiking, it involves seeking a ride in a vehicle operated by another traveller who is going to the same destination. Unlike hitchhiking, the arrangements are usually made in advance; the passenger makes some token payment to the driver to defray or partially defray the cost of the trip.
Ridesharing means more ecological and economical transport compared to single occupancy car travel as more than one person ride in a vehicle meaning less consumption of fuel per person transport kilometer and enabling higher traffic density. These services have mobile optimized webapps and also many have native mobile apps.
In some countries the legal status of ride sharing with any compensation to the driver is unclear, as it may be regarded as an illegal taxi. The probability of problems for a passenger is low, but if you are going to offer ride sharing for money, you should check this. As licensing taxis is in the jurisdiction of local municipalities in many places, the situation can vary drastically from city to city.
Unlike the taxi where the passenger chooses the destination, in carpooling, it is the driver who offers to share his vehicle, possibly free of charge and fixes the route.
A driver offers passengers to transport them in his car for a journey (or a portion of a journey) that he must himself make, and therefore on the date and time he has decided. Usually, the place of departure, determined in advance, is the same for everyone. Upon arrival, the driver drops off passengers where he or she stops, or where everyone wants, avoiding making a big detour. He can then leave his passengers for example near a public transport or where a member of the family or a friend can pick them up.
The driver can ask that one of the passengers replace him at the wheel so that he can rest a little.
Cost sharing is left to the discretion of the driver. The most classic formula is to divide the cost of fuel and any tolls by the number of people. Overhead costs such as maintenance or insurance may be included in the calculation of the cost of the trip.
The driver is obliged not to make a profit, in particular so as not to violate the law. However, some require a flat-rate contribution regardless of the number of passengers. However, there are also completely free carpooling websites and mobile apps, with no financial contribution. Finally, in 2016, in Luxembourg, an original mobile carpooling app appeared, because it is based on the mutual exchange of services between a driver, pedestrian but able to drive, and a vehicle owner who does not want or cannot drive to the moment of the journey.
Drivers and passengers offer and search for journeys through one of the several mediums available. After finding a match they contact each other to arrange any details for the journey(s). Costs, meeting points and other details like space for luggage are agreed on. They then meet and carry out their shared car journey(s) as planned.
Carpooling is commonly implemented for commuting but is increasingly popular for longer one-off journeys, with the formality and regularity of arrangements varying between schemes and journeys.
Carpooling is not always arranged for the whole length of a journey. Especially on long journeys, it is common for passengers to only join for parts of the journey, and give a contribution based on the distance that they travel. This gives carpooling extra flexibility and enables more people to share journeys and save money.
Some carpooling is now organized in online marketplaces or ride-matching websites that allow drivers and passengers to find a travel match and/or make a secured transaction to share the planned travel cost. Like other online marketplaces, they use community-based trust mechanisms, such as user-ratings, to create an optimal experience for users.
Arrangements for carpooling can be made through many different mediums including public websites, social media, acting as marketplaces, employer websites, smartphone applications, carpooling agencies and pick-up points.
Many companies and local authorities have introduced programs to promote carpooling.
In an effort to reduce traffic and encourage carpooling, some governments have introduced high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in which only vehicles with two or more passengers are allowed to drive. HOV lanes can create strong practical incentives for carpooling by reducing travel time and expense. In some countries, it is common to find parking spaces reserved for carpoolers.
In 2011, an organization called Greenxc created a campaign to encourage others to use this form of transportation in order to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Carpooling, or car sharing as it is called in British English, is promoted by a national UK charity, Carplus, whose mission is to promote responsible car use in order to alleviate financial, environmental and social costs of motoring today, and encourage new approaches to car dependency in the UK. Carplus is supported by Transport for London, the British government initiative to reduce congestion and parking pressure and contribute to relieving the burden on the environment and to the reduction of traffic-related air-pollution, in London.
However, not all countries are helping carpooling to spread: in Hungary it is a tax crime to carry someone in a car for a cost share (or any payment) unless the driver has a taxi license and there is an invoice issued and taxes are paid. Several people were fined by undercover tax officers during a 2011 crackdown, posing as passengers looking for a ride on carpooling websites. On 19 March 2012 Endre Spaller, a member of the Hungarian Parliament interpellated Zoltán Cséfalvay, State Secretary for National Economy, about this practice who replied that carpooling should be endorsed instead of punished, however care must be taken for some people trying to turn it into a way to gain untaxed profit.
Carpooling usually means to divide the travel expenses equally between all the occupants of the vehicle (driver or passenger). The driver doesn’t try to earn money, but to share with several people the cost of a trip he/she would do anyway. The expenses to be divided basically include the fuel and possible tolls. But if we include in the calculation the depreciation of the vehicle purchase and maintenance, insurance and taxes paid by the driver, we get a cost around $1/mile. There are platforms that facilitate carpooling by connecting people seeking respectively passengers and drivers. Usually there is a fare set up by the car driver and accepted by passengers because they get an agreement before trip start.
The second generation of these platforms is designed to manage urban trips in real time, using the travellers’ smartphones. They make possible to occupy the vehicle’s empty seats on the fly, collecting and delivering passengers along its entire route (and not only at common points of origin and destination). This system automatically performs an equitable sharing of travel costs, allowing each passenger to reimburse the driver a fair share according to the benefit actually gained by the vehicle usage, proportional to the distance traveled by the passenger and the number of people that shared the car.
Carpooling in Travel
Various Peer-to-peer ridesharing media are useful to locate prospective drivers or passengers for ride sharing:
Adhoc “split the gas money and be social” real-time via mobile and webapp. Both enabled by ubiquity of mobile communication networks.
Ride boards. These originally were physical bulletin boards affixed to walls in high-traffic areas which attract voyagers; for instance, inside a youth hostel or other transient lodging. Universities often provide a ride board in a central location to match students returning to their home towns with drivers and vehicles.
Computer bulletin boards or message forums evidently could be deployed for use in a very similar manner, moving the same concept on-line.
Classified adverts. While an advert in a printed newspaper would have been prohibitively expensive, websites like Craigslist are free advertising. well within the reach of the average backpacker. Just be wary; these sites do nothing to verify the identity (or the reliability) of the people you’re dealing with.
Slugging is a term originating in 1990s USA where authorities designate appropriate places as slug line location where people can hang out expecting some rides being offered.
The service of matching drivers and vehicles to passengers could be done from a bricks-and-mortar office. In some jurisdictions, intercity bus companies have lobbied to prevent commercial ride sharing agencies in order to eliminate what they perceive to be a competitor.
A few websites and specialised apps provided “flightsharing”, ride sharing with private pilots in general aviation. Many of these were US-based and shut down after a lengthy 2014-15 legal battle in which the US Federal Aviation Administration sought to apply the same regulations to ridesharing as to commercial charter operators with professional commercial pilots.
Ride sharing is most likely to be successful between major centres or popular, beaten-path destinations. On long trips, such as a cross-country Trans-Canada Highway run, passengers may be asked to do some of the long haul driving. It’s best to post a request for transportation well in advance and start checking for offer listings at least a week prior to the desired departure dates. It also helps to be flexible with departure and arrival times. As with hitchhiking, some common sense and discretion is advisable.
Carpooling first became prominent in the United States as a rationing tactic during World War II. Ridesharing began during World War II through “car clubs” or “car-sharing clubs”. The US Office of Civilian Defense asked neighborhood councils to encourage four workers to share a ride in one car to conserve rubber for the war effort. It also created a ride sharing program called the Car Sharing Club Exchange and Self-Dispatching System. Carpooling returned in the mid-1970s due to the 1973 oil crisis and the 1979 energy crisis. At that time the first employee vanpools were organized at Chrysler and 3M.
Carpooling declined precipitously between the 1970s and the 2000s, peaking in the US in 1970 with a commute mode share of 20.4%. By 2011 it was down to 9.7%. In large part this has been attributed to the dramatic fall in gas prices (45%) during the 1980s. In the 1990s it was popular among college students, where campuses have limited parking space. Together with Prof. James Davidson from Harvard, Dace Campbell, a Washington computer scientist, and several others, began to investigate the feasibility of further development although the comprehensive technologies were not commercially available yet at the time. Their work is considered by many to be a forerunner of carpooling & ridesharing systems using technology developed by Garrett Camp, Travis Kalanick, Oscar Salazar and Conrad Whelan at Uber.
The character of carpool travel has been shifting from “Dagwood Bumstead” variety, in which each rider is picked up in sequence, to a “park and ride” variety, where all the travelers meet at a common location. Recently, however, the Internet has facilitated growth for carpooling and the commute share mode has grown to 10.7% in 2005. In 2007 with the advent of smart phones and GPS, which became commercially available, John Zimmer and Logan Green, from Cornell University and University of California, Santa Barbara respectively, rediscovered and created carpooling system called Zimride, a precursor to Lyft. The popularity of the Internet and smart phones has greatly helped carpooling to expand, enabling people to offer and find rides thanks to easy-to-use and reliable online transport marketplaces. These websites are commonly used for one-off long-distance journeys with high fuel costs.
In Europe, long-distance car-pooling has become increasingly popular over the past years, thanks to BlaBlaCar. According to its website, as of 2020, Blablacar counted more than 80 million users, across Europe and beyond.
As of March 2020, Uber and Lyft have suspended carpooling services in the U.S. and Canada in efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic via social distancing.
Carpooling exists in other forms:
Slugging is a form of ad hoc, informal carpooling between strangers. No money changes hands, but a mutual benefit still exists between the driver and passenger(s) making the practice worthwhile.
Flexible carpooling expands the idea of ad hoc carpooling by designating formal locations for travelers to join carpools.
Ridesharing companies allow people to arrange ad hoc rides on very short notice, through the use of smartphone applications or the internet. Passengers are simply picked up at their current location.
Ride sharing is not to be confused with:
Long-term, workplace carpooling for commuters. The concept is very similar, and terminology like the French-language covoiturage (carpooling) is very often used for both, but commuter carpools are short-haul trips where drivers and passengers are expected to be at the same locations every day.
Car sharing schemes where an organisation acquires a fleet of vehicles for short-term, self-service rental to its members – no driver included. Some are co-operatives or non-profit, some are commercial businesses, some are chains operated by the mainstream hire car firms. See Carsharing. There are also bicycle sharing schemes where a municipality or other organisation lends or rents cycles short-term as local transportation within a city, usually for environmental reasons.
Taxi-like services in private vehicles, like Uber, Haxi and Lyft. A ride-share passenger is looking for a driver who is already going to their destination, usually as a means to share expenses, while “ridesourcing” or ride hailing services find drivers who will go out of their way in return for monetary profit. Some levels of these services can dispatch conventional taxicabs for a fee.
The different types of carpooling
The car is often seen as an extension of personal space, the driver, alone in his vehicle, is in an enclosed space; he is free to do what he sees fit: listen to the radio, sing, make phone calls with earphones… Carpool regularly means sharing a dialogue, experiences, stories.
In the United States, an intermediate concept has developed between carpooling and the public transport line: the Vanpool. These are minibuses chartered by an employer, a public authority or a private company and made available to a group of people who regularly make the same journey.
This carpooling is often done with people from the same company, university or neighbors. This practice represents two-thirds of carpooling trips, it mainly takes place in large companies with more than 300 people and administrations 65.
We carpool children from several families using a single driver, the driver can be different in the morning, in the evening and every day of the week.
Once at school you can carpool with other parents to your workplace, sometimes the school car park allows you to park a car there during the day.
Home parking lot work
Everyone takes their car to the meeting place: parking, then we carpool to the workplace. Car parks at motorway entrances and exits are heavily used, but their parking capacity is often very small. The creation of relay parking can promote this practice.
One-time or casual carpooling
This type of carpooling is mainly used for leisure or last minute departures. The connection is often done through websites, which considerably reduces travel costs, but which generally requires carpooling with one or more strangers.
Participants in an event (music festival, sporting event, wedding, association or institutional meeting…) can organize themselves to carpool to the place of the event. This one-off carpooling has a special feature: all participants go to the same place on the same date.
Carpooling is also used for departures on vacation or on weekends, the savings made on a trip being greater the longer the trip. Car sharing is therefore becoming an economical and accessible transport alternative.
There are also “cultural” carpooling platforms making it possible to go to a site with a cultural vocation castles, museums, exhibitions, artists’ workshops, religious places, festivals, etc.
Rural or sparsely populated areas
In areas with low and very low population density, carpooling makes it possible to compensate for the lack or absence of public transport for people without a vehicle. The bush taxi also plays this role because its cost is moderate for the user.
Flexibility – Carpooling can struggle to be flexible enough to accommodate in route stops or changes to working times/patterns. One survey identified this as the most common reason for not carpooling. To counter this some schemes offer ‘sweeper services’ with later running options, or a ‘guaranteed ride home’ arrangement with a local taxi company.
Reliability – If a carpooling network lacks a “critical mass” of participants, it may be difficult to find a match for certain trips. The parties may not necessarily follow through on the agreed-upon ride. Several internet carpooling marketplaces are addressing this concern by implementing online paid passenger reservation, billed even if passengers do not turn up.
Riding with strangers – Concerns over security have been an obstacle to sharing a vehicle with strangers, though in reality the risk of crime is small. One remedy used by internet carpooling schemes is reputation systems that flag problematic users and allow responsible users to build up trust capital, such systems greatly increase the value of the website for the user community.
Overall efficacy – Though carpooling is officially sanctioned by most governments, including construction of lanes specifically allocated for car-pooling, some doubts remain as to the overall efficacy of carpool lanes. As an example, many car-pool lanes, or lanes restricted to car-pools during peak traffic hours, are seldom occupied by car-pools in the traditional sense. Instead, these lanes are often empty, leading to an overall net increase in fuel consumption as freeway capacity is intentionally[weasel words] contracted, forcing the solo-occupied cars to travel slower, leading to reduced fuel efficiency. Further, many of the vehicles are occupied by passengers that would nevertheless consist of multiple passengers[clarification needed], for example a parent with multiple children being escorted to school.
In 2012, the Queensland government announced it would end carpool lanes (known as Transit Lanes) claiming they were creating congestion and delays. The move was supported by the RACQ motoring group.
Carpool to save time
The multiplication of lanes reserved for vehicles with multiple occupancy (carpooling and public transport) would save time for carpoolers, buses and taxis. The law allowing the creation of reserved lanes for carpooling (3 people and more) and public transport vehicles was ultimately not adopted during the Grenelle de l’environnement.
The dynamic carpooling
Dynamic carpooling combines several technologies: geolocation by GPS and 3G connections. It makes it possible to synchronize in real time the requests and offers of trips.
Dynamic carpooling can also support the automatic management of costs because the reconciliation calculation between the passenger and the driver is based on real-time geolocation which makes it possible to accurately calculate the exact shared journey. But this cost management is neither obligatory nor a distinguishing feature of the concept of “dynamic”. With the help of virtual wallets, drivers and passengers do not need to physically exchange currency, which is digitally and instantly transferred from one account to another based on several parameters (model and year of the car, actual fuel consumption, etc. ).
Dynamic carpooling was first conceptualized through a patent in the United States that an article from the Nokia research center 20 years later will make less theoretical. This article shows that technologies are becoming mature enough to move from concept to experimentation. After a series of local experimental projects based on technologies that do not use GPS geolocation, experiments using this technology are being carried out by a series of start-ups starting with Avego in Ireland, then Covivo in France and finally Flinc in Germany.
The issue of “dynamic mobility” is much broader: it involves combining and optimizing public transport passenger information with that of carpooling.
Co-hauling is a concept launched in France by the Wetruck company which offered passengers the opportunity to take a trip with a professional truck driver for prices quite close to those of carpooling. This concept announced to offer the advantages of traveling with large luggage, in remote areas or even a two-wheeler at the level of the load. In August 2016, the company announced its closure.
The carpooling of parcels or parcels-car-transport makes it possible to transport parcels on a journey made. Members record their journeys and offer room in their vehicle or luggage to transport the neighbors’ package. So we share the costs and save on moving or sending the package.
In popular culture
In the 1970s, the US Department of Transportation released a humorous, animated public service announcement to promote carpooling entitled “Kalaka.” In the commercial, an interviewer is shown talking to Noah, “the original share-the-ride-with-a-friend man.” Noah explains that carpooling is an economical way to get where you’re going, but back in his time it was known as “kalaka.”
Cabbing All the Way is a book written by author Jatin Kuberkar that narrates a success story of a carpool with twelve people on board. Based in the city of Hyderabad, India, the book is a real life narration and highlights the potential benefits of having a carpool.
The 2017 smartphone game Crazy Taxi Tycoon (formerly titled Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire) antagonizes ride-sharing as a threat to taxi business, as it becomes a powerful megacorporation that rips off those whom it serves. The player is tasked in hiring taxi drivers to establish a taxi service that offers a more legitimate, friendly and reliable transport experience.